What Is "Clean Eating?" I Tried It For A Month, And Here Are The Pros And Cons Of It

I'm usually not a sucker for the newest diet fad. However, when I heard about "clean eating," it sparked my interest, so I gave it a shot — and found out there are many pros and cons to clean eating in the process. Here's what I learned while trying to eat clean for a month.

Maybe it's because I'm a woman, or maybe it's because I tried numerous diets throughout my adolescence, but I've learned my lessons well when it comes to what works and what doesn't for me over the years: Juice cleanses aren't my thing (and, it turns out, probably don't work for most people in the long run either); furthermore, I'm not one to cut particular things out of my diet forever. Although carbs, sugar, soft drinks, and alcohol aren't the healthiest things in the world, consuming them in moderation is key. So, when it came to taking better care of myself, I felt like the only real options I had were to get better about portion control and exercise more.

And that's where clean eating comes in, because it's not really a "diet" — it's more like a set of guidelines for eating healthfully. What is "clean eating," exactly? There are a lot of definitions, but for me, it meant eating things that were as close to their natural state as possible. This meant venturing into the "organic" section of the grocery store. I tried not to buy things with huge amounts of ingredients on the label, and most importantly, I made sure I was able to pronounce every ingredient on those This meant I was eating more fruits, vegetables, and fresh meat then ever before, and far fewer processed foods. Here are some of the pros and cons I learned while I was eating clean:

Pro: I Felt Good About Myself

I'm not talking about how my body felt; rather, knowing I was doing something healthy made me feel good about myself and more confident in my eating habits. Maybe I wasn't cutting out carbs and sugars, but eating clean meant these types of foods were reduced in my diet anyway. I even had the checkout person at the grocery store compliment my purchases a few times, saying they wished they bought as much fresh food as I did.

Con: It Was Expensive

To eat clean, you don't have to specifically go to organic food stores. However, sometimes you have no other choice if you want to get a hold of certain options that you know aren't highly processed. These places can be expensive, and it adds up quickly. Not to mention if you're getting fresh ingredients with no preservatives, you have to shop often — if you get too much your food will spoil.

Pro: My Body Felt Good

I know what you're thinking — this was probably psychological. But I'm actually a huge dieting skeptic. After eating clean for a week or so, though, I felt more energized. I actually wanted to wake up and work out. Weird, right?

Con: It's Time Consuming

I mean, eating everything fresh, you'd think it would take less time to prepare, right? Wrong. First you have to find the stuff (and with some recipes this is not easy); then you have to prepare it from scratch (no microwavable dinner options here); and then you have to actually cook it. It's pretty time consuming for every meal unless you cook everything ahead of time.

Pro: I'd Do It Again

What other diet is anyone like "I want to do that again!"? (Although again, eating clean isn't really a "diet" in the way that we typically think of the word). Once I got into a routine and found some easy recipes, it wasn't all that bad; furthermore, I did feel much healthier, and feeling healthy is awesome.

Con: Sometimes You Just Really, Really Want Taco Bell

You win some, you lose some — and when you're eating clean, one of the things you lose is Taco Bell. Sigh.

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